The past two years and most probably this year will be remembered as an important part of history.
The history will be of all the details and difficulties of the coronavirus and how we as a country and the world as a whole dealt with it.
It will be an understatement to say that, just like 2020, 2021 was a tough time for many. But with tough times come experiences that can positively shape us individually and as a country.
Just like 2020, 2021 has passed but with a big lesson that in a pandemic like this lockdowns work only as a delaying tactic.
A tactic that if used well can give us the time to come up with more practical and pragmatic responses.
A big saving grace for us these past couple of years has been technology.
Most of what we achieved during these lockdowns would have been unbelievably difficult if it happened 20 or so years ago.
As a country, we managed to push through and create some normality during our lives with multiple lockdown level changes and, at times, with no end to the lockdown in sight, especially for Auckland.
For many businesses, whether or not they were identified as essential, where possible they had no choice but to keep operating and working from home. This was the best way for them to work around the lockdown.
And many others had no choice but to tune in at 1pm or 4pm to see if they were even allowed to go back to work.
Even those who thought they could only work in an office setting or not at home managed to find balance and adapt.
On the one hand, being home with family was wonderful. It gave many a true sense of the importance of family and the high value of that time together.
But on the other side of the coin, the lockdown meant many were also unable to see family for months on end.
Aucklanders were locked away from the rest of the country and unable to see family outside of Auckland and vice versa for months. Relatives overseas were seemingly completely out of reach with no idea on travel, border and MIQ restrictions.
Not to mention the immense pain that many experienced who could not be beside their family members who were sick or passed away and could not be there in person when their family members were being given their final farewell, missing their only chance at seeing off their loved ones.
Among all this, one thing that many have been really grateful for is to have their jobs secure.
As many businesses struggled to make ends meet, and had no option but to rely on various business support schemes like resurgence help and wage subsidies, it was such that business financial instability also fell on some employees.
Especially for those businesses or individuals who had the wage subsidy as the only way for them to gain a bit of financial stability during these very unpredictable times.
All of a sudden to have earnings shrunk to the wage subsidy amount must have been quite a hit to the pockets.
And it will not come as a surprise that it has been the low-income individuals or families who had jobs that couldn't be done from home, relying just on the wage subsidy, that were the groups that suffered the most.
You have to take into account that the wage subsidy did not reach the total of 40 hours weekly work on minimum wage. Now imagine that drop in pay while still paying off money borrowed to buy a home, car or starting a business.
The principal and interest payment holiday for a short while for people with mortgages might have brought some temporary relief for some but now for those who have floating or fixed-term interest rates coming to an end, the increased interest rate is waiting to bite them.
Having a debt is not a problem; it is only when it becomes a "problem debt" that it is a problem.
We are living through a time that will become a major part of history that will be talked about forever just like the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Hopefully what follows will not be talked about like the great depression of the 1920s and 1930s.
- Former National MP and former Families Commissioner, Dr Parmjeet Parmar has PhD in biological sciences from the University of Auckland.